The Swiss marvel, chasing a sixth Australian Open crown, could also face big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the fourth round in the bottom half of the men's draw.
Federer, who was interviewed on court prior to the draw being revealed, should enjoy a routine first week as he begins his title defense.
The former World No.1 made an impressive return to action in an exhibition clash with Dominic Thiem yesterday but admitted his elbow is still not 100 per cent.
"So (it was) a huge surprise, especially after the six months I had off, and what a comeback it was and it was definitely the highlight of the year. That was not part of my dream", says men's tennis's oldest year-ending world No.2.
The top 32 players in the draw are seeded, meaning they can't meet until the third round, while the top 16 can't meet each other until the fourth round and so on, with the first and second seeds unable to meet until the final.More news: Mueller adds cybersecurity specialist to Russian Federation probe team
So maybe Nadal versus Federer in the final isn't so much of a long shot after all?
The draw for the January 15-28 tournament, the first grand slam of the year, takes place later on Thursday.
Top-ranked Simona Halep opens against Australian wild card Destanee Aiava, has a potential second-round match against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, and is in the same half as Garbine Muruguza, the Wimbledon champion.
Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Victoria Azarenka are all big-name players who won't be participating in the Australian Open this year.More news: Norwegians decline President Donald Trump's offer to move to US
Federer though is heading into the season's first Grand Slam with a lot of confidence after leading Switzerland to season-opening Hopman Cup earlier this year.
A knee injury which has prevented Nadal from playing competitively since losing to David Goffin at the ATP Finals in November has restricted the 16-time major champion to just a pair of exhibition contests in Melbourne - a far cry from his run to the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International past year.
"There's no easy way to get to the top", Sharapova told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena before the draw. "I'm pretty good, a bit exhausted, I worked hard while I've been in Australia which is why I arrived pretty early here, so I can't wait to start this tournament", Pouille said.
She said: "I have pain in my right adductor".More news: Pakistan army chief: U.S. general called, offered assurances